Meet Haruna Iddrisu. Minority Leader of the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana

Minority Leader of the Seventh Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu Minority Leader of the Seventh Parliament, Haruna Iddrisu

He was young but affable, calm but intelligent, simple but visible. These are some of the attributes of Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader of the Seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana.

The intelligence and visibility of Mr Haruna began to manifest in student politics when he became the President of the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) from 1996-1997.
When he held the National Youth Organiser position for the National Democratic Congress (NDC) from 2002 to 2010, Haruna Iddrisu, as he is called on the political arena, gained a lot of following among the youth. He showed his mettle as he contributed to the victory of the NDC (then in opposition) in the 2008 election.
Mr Iddrisu has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Tamale South since 2005, meaning he is in his fourth term as the MP for that constituency. His eloquence and intelligent submissions in Parliament endear him to both sides of the House.
He has held important ministerial positions, including Minister of Communications from 2009 to 2013, Minister of Trade and Industry from 2013 to 2014 and Minister of Employment and Labour Relations from August 2014 to January 2017.
Before assuming formal appointment as a Minister, Mr Iddrisu had been the Ranking Member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Communications and also the Minority Spokesman on Communications in the previous Parliament when his party was in opposition. He was a member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Mines and Energy.
He also served on the Parliamentary Standing Committees on Appointments, Constitutional and Legal Matters.
The 47-year-old legislator was a member of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) negotiating team and a member of the Economic Management Team of Government. He, therefore, has a strong policy background.
Mr Iddrisu, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology,  is also a Barrister–at-Law and has been a member of the Ghana Bar Association since 2002.
In fact, there is one important characteristic about the political fortunes of Mr Iddrisu as the votes keep appreciating in each election in his Tamale South Constituency, mainly because of the intense interactions he has with his constituents, especially the youth: He attends funerals, naming and marriage ceremonies, and engages in sports with the youth.
Need for a new leader
When the NDC lost the December 7, 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections with 169 seats for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) as against 106 for the NDC, the latter lost its majority status in Parliament.
And when it turned out that the long-serving leader of the NDC in Parliament, Mr Alban Bagbin, was being considered for the Second Deputy Speaker position, the Minority NDC in Parliament needed another huge personality to fit into the mountainous shoe of Mr Bagbin beginning from January 7, 2017. Such a personality should also be able to stand the character of the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.
It, therefore, came as no surprise that the Minority settled on Mr Iddrisu to be their leader in the House.
His leadership style
Mr Iddrisu told this writer that it was bitter-sweet for him to be the Minority Leader because he did not wish his party to be in opposition for him to lead it in Parliament.
He said he was settling in as the Minority Leader, and indicated that he would endeavour to work to champion the progressive agenda of the NDC.
While affirming his resolve to work in the national interest by ensuring proper oversight over the executive, Mr Iddrisu said he was in a unique position to contribute to the success of the NDC to work from opposition to government.
"We have a proud record and we endear ourselves to some Ghanaians. We need to have an effective strategy to prepare for the 2020 election. I believe if elections were done probably today, we would be able to recover some of our seats, "with a better strategy and superior collective work and ensuring that we don't make concessions to the government, except those that are in the supreme interest of the country.
"We will identify national core issues that we can all work at in eradicating and fighting poverty, deepening decentralisation and deepening good governance, openness and accountability in government and seeking the overall well-being of the Ghanaian to improve the quality of life," he said.
Exciting challenge
Mr Iddrisu said nobody aspired to be in opposition, and certainly would not be aspiring to lead from opposition, "but that is where fate has destined all of us.
"I will endeavour to do my best. It is always an exciting challenge to bring a party in opposition to government. That may even be more reassuring than the quest to consolidate power.
He believes that with unity and working with a common purpose, the NDC could become stronger and recapture power in the 2020 election.
Mr Iddrisu said: "A lot of people say Haruna is a small boy," but he indicated that he was  growing in his parliamentary career as he was in his fourth term as MP.
"My father did not know Accra and so I have worked the journey and appreciate and thank God for the glory, grace and the honour to be Member of Parliament; and my votes have always appreciated since I became MP, thanks to the support of the people of Tamale South, its chiefs, opinion leaders, women and the youth," he said.
Presidential ambition
Mr Iddrisu is said to be harbouring a presidential ambition, but when this writer posed the question to him, he shrugged it off.
He simply said: "My father did not know Accra."
Key areas of focus
Mr Iddrisu said the Minority would work to improve the oversight function, as well as the deliberative function to allow for more debate on the policy issues of budget and on the State of the Nation Address.
"We will call for a different attitude to the work of Parliament and to strengthen the parliamentary committee system to allow for more openness in the work of the committees. I'm all for that. A more strengthened Parliament," he said.
Myth surrounding Haruna Iddrisu
According to Mr Iddrisu, he had a unique style - which was his visibility and credibility at all times.
"My social life is such that I participate in all social activities within the constituency; whether it is funeral, naming and wedding, to bring social cohesion and love. I always believe in the notion that love thy neighbour like yourself and don't injure your neighbour. These are the myths around Haruna," he said.
Mr Iddrisu said his mother was his source of inspiration, because she had a sense of humility and unquestionable faith in God.
"And the act of God just to recognise that at all times, all things that happen can only be Him, and so that is Haruna.”
Mr Iddrisu is married with three children and likes playing football with his constituents.
Some achievements
Mr Iddrisu championed the deepening competition in the telecommunication industry in Ghana through the Mobile Number Portability (MNP), SIM Registration and Data Protection Law to protect privacy.
 He was a member of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), the Chair of the Free Zones Board and Chair of Brand Ghana Council, with the mandate to build a compelling image for Ghana.